Review: Pain & Gain

pain_and_gain_ver3Pain & Gain

  • Starring: Mark Wahlberg (The Fighter), Dwayne Johnson (Faster), Anthony Mackie (The Adjustment Bureau) and more.
  • Directed by: Michael Bay (Transformers)
  • Synopsis: “From acclaimed director Michael Bay comes “Pain & Gain,” a new action comedy starring Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson and Anthony Mackie. Based on the unbelievable true story of three personal trainers in 1990s Miami who, in pursuit of the American Dream, get caught up in a criminal enterprise that goes horribly wrong.”
  • Rated: Rated R for language, nudity, crude sexual content, drug usage and bloody violence.
  • Must-Watch Trailer:
  • Review:

Based on the unfortunate and disturbingly true events that took place in the mid-90’s, Pain & Gain follows ex-con bodybuilder Daniel Lugo (played by Mark Wahlberg) who concocted and enacted a plot to extort finances and possessions from a rich local businessman. His plot involved the assistance of two other bodybuilders and exploded (in Michael Bay fashion) well beyond his intent and expectation. Although Bay’s representation of the events that took place remains under scrutiny for a lack of respect for the victims it surprisingly is pretty close to the actual account of the entire situation.pain-and-gain-explosion-walking-away

Marketed as a comedy, drama and an action film, Pain & Gain could have benefited from essentially having its “truth stranger than fiction” script already laid out, however, it fails to find itself as it flirts between genres and disappointingly does not settle on one or the other. A rounded cast of actors including Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Rebel Wilson, Tony Shaloub and Ed Harris lends itself to the idea of comedy, however, the disappointing tragedy is the fact that these actors all play roles they are too comfortable in, resulting in, debate-ably, lazy acting altogether (with the exception of Dwayne Johnson who brought most of the laughs).


A fault derived by the lazy adaptive re-writing of a story already complete. Pain & Gain should have ended approximately 20-30 minutes sooner than it did, yet could not because the story was not completely wrapped yet.scrubs

Mixed with a surprising amount of violence, sexual content and drug usage, this true story is not for all to enjoy. It plays much like a train-wreck that increasingly gets worse yet keeps you watching. The lazy acting and writing combined with the forced laughter and seeming glorification of the villains along with the lack of empathy towards the true life victims makes Pain & Gain a rather interesting, appalling, and yet entertaining film all at the same time. The film often goes from drawing laughter to cringing on the flip of a switch and sometimes the moments in which you cringe or laugh may get mixed up when the movie goes to areas unexpected. I personally did not enjoy the way the film pays (?) respect to the actual victims of the true story, but it is ultimately super surprising seeing how the plot plays out. The film stays VERY true to the actual events and reminds you that it is a true story when you begin to doubt.pain and gain 4

Michael Bay shocks, sickens, surprises and somewhat satisfies in this “true life” tale. Viewing it can be seen as either a pain or a gain as this one falls right in the middle with two and a half stars out of five.

My Score: 2.5 out of 5 stars for Pain & Gainpain_gain_red_band

(Remember, to read this review of mine and over 200 more, check out THE ARCHIVE of movies I have reviewed anytime. Know before you go…or rent…or buy!)


Thanks for reading! Happy Watching!

T, The Focused Filmographer

up next: Review for Iron Man 3


  1. Still don’t know what to make up of this movie, but at least I know that it was damn sure as hell was fun to watch. That much I know. Good review T.


  2. […] “Michael Bay shocks, sickens, surprises and somewhat satisfies in this “true life” tale. Viewing it can be seen as either a pain or a gain as this one falls right in the middle with two and a half stars out of five.” – The Focused Filmographer […]


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